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Santorini (Thira), the island with picturesque streets, white houses, and blue-domed churches is the most visited island in Greece and a top destination in Europe.
This volcanic island belongs to the Cycladic Archipelago and it is located in the south of the Aegean Sea, about 200 kilometers southeast of Greece’s mainland.
It is the largest island of a small circular archipelago called Santorini. The Santorini Archipelago includes 2 inhabited islands: Santorini and Thirasia and 3 uninhabited islands: Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni and Aspronisi.
How can you get to Santorini?
By ferry from Athens:
Most ferries depart from the Piraeus port in the morning between 7 and 8 o’clock.
The trip to Santorini lasts 5 hours with a high-speed ferry and 8 hours with a classic ferry.
If you do not travel by car, you can take the metro to the port, or the bus X96 from the airport.
Tickets can be purchased online or directly from the port.
If you are planning to visit several islands in Greece, there are ferry boats connecting the island of Santorini to other islands of Greece: Crete, Naxos, Mykonos, Rhodes, and Paros.
In the peak season, there are direct flights to Santorini from several cities in Europe (Paris, Amsterdam, London, Manchester, Rome, Naples, or Venice).
From Athens, there are flights to Santorini throughout the year. We flew from here with Ryanair and arrived in less than an hour at Santorini.
Santorini Airport (JTR) is about 6 kilometers away from Fira, the capital of Santorini.
How can you get from the airport to the city?
By car or ATV/Buggy:
If you want to freely explore the island and have the freedom to use your time as you like, we recommend you rent a car or an ATV/Buggy.
Rental of ATVs and Buggies is the most popular choice among tourists in Santorini.
Cars can be picked up from the airport, and there are also some ATV/Buggy rental companies that have this option.
The fare costs between 15-25 euros, depending on the distance traveled to the destination.
There is a bus connecting the airport to Fira, the capital of the island. The trip takes about 15 minutes and the ticket costs 1.8 Euros.
From Fira, there are regular bus rides to the other cities on the island.
Fly your drone in Santorini:
Flying a drone is legal in Greece, but not in Santorini.
Since January 2017, the island of Santorini has become a no-fly zone.
When can you visit the island?
The peak season is from June to September, but during this period, the island is very crowded.
The weather is also pleasant between April and May or in October, and the island is not very crowded.
We visited the island in the second half of April and we had sunny days.
Where did we stay in Santorini?
It is recommended that you book your accommodation in advance to ensure availability and a better price.
We decided to stay in the center of Fira, at the Lignos Hotel.
What did we visit in Santorini in 4 days?
With landscapes that you literally can’t stop photographing, the island is famous for good reason.
Fira to Oia hiking:
On the first day, we hiked the trail from Fira to Oia.
This route is about 10 kilometers long one way.
Although the route can be covered in 2 and a half hours, we advise you not to rush to Oia, but to visit the cities of Firostefani and Imeroglivi (with Skaros Rock) on the route. With these stops, it may take about 5 hours to complete the trail.
Stops on the route:
The route starts in Fira, behind the Atlantis Hotel, and continues northwards through narrow streets filled with restaurants and souvenir shops.
From Fira, you will arrive in about 20 minutes in the next village, Firostefani. From here you will have a stunning landscape over the town of Fira and over the caldera.
Imeroglivi, the next city on the route was our favorite city in Santorini. The view here is memorable, and the city is much quieter than Fira or Oia.
We were lucky to visit the city when many of the houses were freshly painted, so everything around us was impeccably white.
Skaros Rock looks much nicer from Imeroglivi, especially on a spring day when the rock is covered in green.
Here you can choose to continue the route to Oia or make your way down the path leading to Skaros Rock, the place where a castle was built in the 13th century, and which was destroyed by an earthquake in the 19th century.
It takes you about an hour to reach Skaros Rock and to get back.
On the route between Imeroglivi and Oia, enjoy the view over the city of Oia and the islands in the caldera.
The village of Oia (pronounced EE aa (pronounced as in see and car)) is located in the northern part of the island and is the most photogenic city on the island.
The city is very beautiful, with lots of paths and streets that you can walk for hours, admiring the charming view.
Here you will pass by a lot of souvenir shops, white or beautifully colored houses and churches painted in white and blue.
What can you do in Oia?
Visit Ammoudi Bay:
It is a perfect bay for swimming, located in the immediate vicinity of the Ammoudi port.
It can be reached by car or on foot, descending the stairs from Oia to the port.
Atlantis Books in Oia:
The bookstore is in the top 10 bookstores in the world and it is on the way to the Byzantine Castle.
Where did we watch the sunset in Oia?
The most famous (but also crowded) place to watch the sunset in Santorini is the ruins of the Byzantine Castle of Oia.
The local buses of Santorini:
From Oia, we returned to Fira by bus, and the trip lasted about 30 minutes.
From Fira, there are regular bus rides to most of the villages on the island. If you do not have a direct connection between two places, take a bus to Fira and then another bus to the destination.
The bus ride costs between 1.80 Euros and 2.4 Euros, depending on the destination.
One-day caldera Cruise from Fira:
We have chosen a 6-hour cruise from Fira: Santorini Volcano Boat Tour including Hot Springs & Therasia.
There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t miss this activity: from the water, you will have a different panoramic view of Santorini towns, you will visit the second inhabited island of the archipelago – Thirassia, and you will walk around the volcano crater on the island of Nea Kameni.
The old port of Santorini:
From this harbor, you will board a beautiful traditional wooden boat and head to the volcanic island Nea Kameni.
You can reach the harbor from Fira by cable car or descending, like us, the 587 stairs.
The first stop will be on Nea Kameni island, where you will arrive in 20 minutes. On this island, we spent an hour and a half, and we were accompanied by a guide who told us about the island’s history.
Nea Kameni is an uninhabited volcanic island, constantly monitored by scientists from the Institute for the Study and Monitoring of the Santorini Volcano (ISMOSAV).
The route is not difficult, but the temperature during the summer can be very high here, so it would be advisable to have some water with you.
The crater of the volcano is positioned at the highest point on the island, and the view from here over the towns of Santorini, the blue water and the surrounding islands is amazing.
The second stop we made, was close to Agios Nicholas Beach (Palea Kameni Island) where the water of the famous hot springs mixed with the sea water, making this golf an exceptional place for swimming.
The boat will stop about 30 meters from the beach and you can reach the beach only by swimming. In the first few meters, the water is cold, but as you get off the boat and get closer to the beach, the water gets warmer.
We spent 2 hours in Thirassia, the island of the Santorini Archipelago which has about 300 inhabitants. From the port, you have to climb many stone paved stairs (on foot or riding a donkey) to get to Manolas, the capital of the island.
If you do not want to climb up to Manolas, you can have lunch at one of the restaurants in the harbor or spend your time on the beach here.
From the village of Manolas, the surrounding islands look very beautiful.
On the way back from Thirassia to Fira, we enjoyed a spectacular view of Oia, Firostefani, and Imeroglivi.
From the old port of Fira, you can reach the city by cable car (6 euros), climb the stairs, or ride a donkey (6 Euro).
Sunset in Fira:
We chose to have dinner in a restaurant with a view – the Eisitiri Restaurant and watched the sunset from here. In our opinion, this was the most beautiful sunset we have seen in Santorini.
In the evening, the city has a special charm, and we advise you to take a stroll up the northern side of the city (the route to Oia), from where you can see a landscape that seems to be taken out of a painting.
Santorini from Buggy:
Most tourists choose to rent an ATV or a Buggy in Santorini.
For an ATV you will pay between 23 and 50 euros/day, and for a Buggy between 65 and 100 euros/day, it depends on the season and the engine power.
We paid 80 euros / day for a Buggy 4X4 – 800cc.
Santorini Wine Museum:
The museum is a 10-minute drive from Fira and is open every day of the week from 10:00 to 19:00.
The entrance ticket costs 10 Euros and you have included tasting 4 types of wine.
We went to this museum without great expectations and we were surprised at how much we liked it. This museum is among the most interesting and beautifully organized museums we have visited so far.
Inside there are several rooms with exhibitions related to the history of wine production in Santorini, and at the entrance you will receive an audio guide and you will listen to the history of each of the objects exhibited.
We spent about an hour here.
We liked two types of wines, that we tasted very much (Kamaritis and Vinsanto) and we bought two bottles to bring home.
Our next stop was Pyrgos, the village with more churches than houses. It is a less touristic town situated on a hill, from where you have a different view of the island.
It is the highest point on the island and can be reached by car / ATV / Buggy from Pyrgos.
The road here is sealed, and the landscape seen from above is fabulous.
It is considered one of the best places on the island to watch the sunset.
From here you can walk to Ancient Thira (50 minutes), Pyrgos (1 hour), Kamari (1 hour 30 minutes) and Perissa (1 hour and 25 minutes).
From Profitis Ilias we headed for Perissa, one of Santorini’s black sand beaches. Here we had lunch and we walked on the endless beach.
Perissa is 30 minutes away from Fira and can also be reached by bus.
Akrotiri is located in the southern part of the island, about 20 km from Fira, and you can reach it by car / Quad or by bus from Fira.
As you take a stroll through the ruins of the archaeological site, where the houses and the narrow streets are very well preserved, you can well imagine how the life of those who lived here in prehistoric times looked like.
The museum is open from Wednesday to Monday between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM and on Tuesdays between 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM and the ticket costs 12 Euros.
Kokkini Ammos Cove – Red Beach
The beach is very close to the Akrotiri archaeological site. From the parking you’ll have to hike about one kilometer to get to Red Beach.
The colors here are impressive, the blue water next to the red sandy beach and the rocks of the same color that shelter the bay, make this place different from the other places we have visited so far.
From here you can reach White Beach, which is only accessible by boat.
It was our last stop of this day.
The lighthouse is located in the southwestern part of the island, 30 minutes from Fira, in a quiet area, on a corner of the island surrounded by the sea.
On your way up here, you will pass through small villages and vineyards.
The building is not very impressive, but it is worthwhile to go there for the view.
It is another top spot on the island to watch the sunset, but unfortunately, on the evening we were here, the sun was covered in clouds.
It can be reached by car or taxi, as buses do not reach this part of the island.
On the last day we chose to visit the city of Fira and relax on one of the beaches of Santorini.
What and where can you eat in Fira?
On one of the evenings when we were walking late on the city streets, we discovered a pastry shop that is open 24 hours a day. Here we had coffee and cake every morning.
We recommend trying a Gyros at Grill world, which is very tasty and costs around 2.5 euros.
Have dinner at one of the restaurants with a view to enjoy dinner while watching a spectacular sunset.
We have only eaten in traditional Greek restaurants, but in Fira there are restaurants of all kinds and for all tastes and budgets.
Do not miss Greek yogurt in various combinations. We especially enjoyed the Greek yogurt from 5 Senses Fresh, where you can prepare your yogurt by yourself, with whatever ingredients you want. Our favorite was yogurt with honey, nuts and strawberries.
The narrow streets of the northern part of the city are very much like a bazaar.
If you want to buy something to remind you of the time spent in Santorini, this is the ideal place.
There are souvenir shops, food or clothes and lots of restaurants.
Visit the Prehistoric Museum of Fira:
It is located in the immediate vicinity of the bus station and it takes less than an hour to visit this museum. The museum is open from Wednesday to Monday from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
Here are the most important discoveries from Akrotiri and it is quite impressive that these objects, so old, are so well preserved.
The black sandy beach of Kamari is one of the longest beaches on the island.
You can reach the beach in about 10 minutes from Fira, by car, by taxi or by bus.
The beach has umbrellas and deckchairs, and there are many restaurants and cafés along the promenade.
We liked Perissa Beach more, because the sand was much finer and the sea much quieter.
From Santorini we flew back to Athens with Ryanair.
We hope you enjoy your trip to this wonderful place and have a memorable stay in Santorini. If you have questions or other tips for the people visiting the island, you can write them in the comments section.
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